Heed the Warnings of Crones…
in them, there is Grave Wisdom
Aversill is a post-apocalyptic fantasy campaign. It is post-apocalyptic in that the world has suffered an enormous calamity (the fall of the kingdom of Aversill), and it is fantasy in that the previous civilization, whatever its size and scope, was still more or less a fantastic empire that relied heavily on magic. The destruction of Aversill, likewise is the result of a curse and not nuclear war.
Nonetheless, many of the same elements of a post-apocalyptic world describe the general manner in which people, both the average people and the player characters, interact with what remains of civilization. Specifically,
A. The world is filled with ruins, known as the Strewn, which dominate the landscape. Even in natural landscapes, it is clear that nature has retaken a ruined empire…an empire that has left no record, which has no particular explanation for its existence, and which has wonders and dangers beyond the kin of mortals. The strewn are the subject of legends, rumors, and outright myths, but even the greatest of Sages in fallen Aversill cannot explain their plentitude.
B. Characters often encounter strange magic (rather than technology) which they can utilize but which they cannot explain or recreate.
C. The surviving civilization is a case of eking out an existence in an extremely hostile world. Most pockets of civilization are small and survive only by becoming xenophobic and paranoid.
D. Given the danger of the world, people would rather not deal with the horrors of everything out there. They’d rather find a nice wall to build a farm behind and live out their days without knowing what lies over the next hill.
E. Even if the strewn is odd, it is tangible. Beyond the strewn are, however, regions that are too chaotic to codify: the Fade. These are the areas into which one does not travel without a death wish.
The major theme of Aversill is that magic has been exceedingly powerful in terms of its effect on the landscape. The world is cursed by the gods, and so civilization has become hemmed in physically by the Strewn and isolated from anything approaching a credible answer for the question of why the world looks the way it does. Magic in the Centering (the opposite of the Fade and the home of mundane humanity) doesn’t really work as if the great power that shaped the world of Aversill closed up the possibility of magic, or, at the very least, impeded it.
Humans are, therefore, forced to consider the world through a sense of wonder regarding the powers that shape everything they see, a fear of angry Gods that happily curse mortals, and the old standby desire to be safe while surrounded by a maze of ruins housing monstrosities without name, and beyond them, the Fade.
And thus it is that humans and their peers are forced to forge small relatively safe domains in the haunting and uninviting places of the world—havens against great dangers spoken of in superstitious whispers and guarded against by charms. Here and there, lanterns hang in a small enclave of cabins surrounded by a great and dangerous forest. Light emerges from a campfire amid tents set on a dry windy plain and atop mountains at the ruined outskirts of a once great dwarven city In places like these, most mortals live out their normal lives by day, afraid to stray too far and terrified by the darkness of night that brings with it strange noises and phantom lights that bounce about in the distance signaling raids or worse.
Still others have learned to live on the periphery between the small areas of the map which are known and the great gulfs of darkness that lie between them. They call the more mundane of the wastelands their homes and territories, often by keeping the worst terrors at bay with armed guards, trained soldiers, and unswerving vigilance. Patrolling the edge of their lands, they mutter silent prayers that their walls keep, that their roads and bridges hold, and that nothing will come out of the wild to truly challenge the sanctity of their homes. Only the terrifying or the mad stray further out.
But even in the midst of the deep and unabiding chaos in which one is as apt to get lost forever as one is to find safe passage, even in places as uninviting as those that lay beyond the limits of the villages and townships, mighty cities and kingdoms have been forged by brave warrior-kings who have forced, through their might, the darkness to hold at bay. Many of these cities are as enormous as they are exotic—others are places as oppressive as the horrors they have displaced, and have only managed to hold their demesne through fear and terrible rituals that no mortal should have ken.
Occasionally the gods send their favor by cursing those who would threaten mankind. Other times, it is the cursed themselves, imbued with the righteous fury of the Gods, who are responsible for holding the darkness at bay even as their lives and sanity disappear.
But there is ample reason to risk life and limb by heading out into the wastes. In the darkness beyond civilization are dangers abhorrent to the children of the gods, ruins filled with treasure from kingdoms which no longer have names, and worlds beyond the dark dark woods peopled with immortal creatures whose allegiance can mean success or failure for the fledgling kingdoms of human kind. For those willing to take the risk, there are chances for riches, power, and grace, but more than that, there are equal chances to elevate one’s self above the masses that huddle in their huts, to bring the poor mortals along, or even to take control with the power that one finds ‘out there’.